Jun 20, 2019 2:37:00 PM
The Freedom to be Different

Keyfactor has always been a little bit different. Headquartered in Cleveland, we care for our customers in a way befitting our Midwestern roots. We play the long game when it comes to product innovation, rather than chase trends. And we value our solutions to encourage customer growth, not penalize it. When others zig, we zag. We call it The Keyfactor Difference. (We’re asked about it so often that we created this web page.)

In addition to valuing customer growth, we also value growth in the communities we’re a part of. Our Marketing team recently spent the afternoon with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland to help facilitate the amazing programs the organization runs each day for hundreds of kids. “The best thing about volunteers is just the time they spend with the kids,” Cindy Newton, Community Engagement Manager of the club told our team.

“The fact that [volunteers] listen to [kids], share some time with them, show them that they’re interested in what the kids are interested in. Our staff is great—they just can’t do that on a daily basis because there’s just so many kids.”

While our team was excited to spend time with the kids at the club, as it is with any community-service project I’ve experienced, the ones who end up benefiting most from the charitable giving are the donors. This experience was no different.

During lunch I met a boy named Sam*. Sitting alone, on the floor not at the table, Sam was an island. It didn’t take long to understand his isolation. “I’m Sam and I’m weird,” he said after I introduced myself. Turns out Sam had just started at the club a few days before and had already been picked on. Eating alone seemed like the best option.

It didn’t take much to get Sam to smile and then laugh. I was able to convince him into moving to one of the tables to finish his lunch, where I sat with him to keep him company and occasionally remind him that there’s nothing wrong with being “weird.” Every one of those hundreds of kids has felt weird at some point. And every one of the adults in the room, too.

After a few minutes, Sam finished his lunch and eyed the ice cream that our team had brought for dessert. He started toward the line of kids and quickly glanced back to make sure I was following him. We chatted with a few kids in line and I tested Sam a bit to see if our time together had changed the way he felt about himself.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“I’m Sam,” he quickly answered.

We moved through the line, grabbed an ice cream -- vanilla with sprinkles -- and sat back down at the table. Before long Sam was done and a counselor came over and told Sam his mom was waiting to take him home.

My heart sank knowing my time with Sam was coming to an end. He grabbed his backpack, gave me a smile and a high five, and then turned toward the door. A moment later, Sam turned back to say thank you. I said the same to him and then finished with the same question I asked when we met: Who are you?

“I’m Sam. And I’m me.”

Being weird or different should be a badge of honor. Standing out in a sea of sameness should be encouraged, not driven out of us. When we re-launched as Keyfactor in 2018 we aimed to showcase what makes us different. While most vendors in the cybersecurity industry highlight the countless risks lurking in companies’ IT environments, we don’t. We think cybersecurity is a catalyst for innovation, not fear. Whether it be to secure a life-critical medical device, the connected, driverless car of the future, or enabling a next-gen financial trading platform. The future is bright (even brighter than the Keyfactor Green of our logo).

What an incredible experience. Thank you to the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland. Thank you to the Best Damn Marketing Team for organizing the outing. And thank you, Sam.

Always be weird.

Always be different.

And never, ever apologize for it.

 

*I've changed the boy's name to protect his privacy.